Floodwaters poured into more than 40 homes in two north Oklahoma City neighborhoods Monday morning, prompting a massive evacuation effort involving boats, personal watercraft and more than a dozen Oklahoma City firefighters.
Firefighters rescued 34 people and 13 dogs from The Valley neighborhood near 172nd and Western Avenue, where a torrential downpour caused a creek to overflow its banks beginning about 9 a.m., according to Maj. Russell Burkhalter of the Oklahoma City Fire Department.
Similar flooding occurred in the Palo Verde neighborhood just north of 178th and Western, where 11 to 13 people were rescued by flat-bottomed boats.
Floodwaters rose as high as windowsills and knocked down fences and basketball goals in the Palo Verde neighborhood and got as high as two feet from the tops of some garages in The Valley neighborhood, firefighters said.
Burkhalter said more than 30 homes were flooded in The Valley, while Jim Holman, president of the Palo Verde Homeowners Association, estimated 12 homes were flooded there. No injuries were reported, but rescuers had to use an air mattress to float a bed-ridden man out of the Palo Verde neighborhood, officials said.
Residents said the waters rose rapidly and caught them by surprise.
Quinten Cheadle of 17301 Sunny Hollow Road in The Valley said he was at work about 9 a.m. when his wife called to say water was getting into the house.
"And then when she called and said the mailboxes were under water — that was when I knew I needed to come home,” Cheadle said. "I parked up the hill and waded through the water. It exhausted me. Finally I got home and everything in the house was floating. I'm very thankful no one got hurt. We had some good neighbors that helped us out.”
In the same neighborhood, Destine O'Brien, 16, of 17321 Sun River Court was home alone when she awoke to find water was already in the home and up to her ankles. The water rose quickly and she was trapped, so she called her parents. Her father, Jeff O'Brien, drove home to save her.
"I was just going to go in to get her, but the water was moving so swift, it looked like it wouldn't be a good idea,” he said.
Destine stayed in the house until around noon when firefighters arrived with a boat to take her to safety.
"Everything else can be replaced, but we were just worried about her,” her father said. "It's good to have her back.”
Paralea Scouten, of 17328 Sun River Court, said she initially tried to stop the floodwaters with towels, but realized that wasn't working when she saw the current running through her living room.
"A shoe would go by and I would grab it,” she said. "I had plans to retire in July. I might have to postpone.”
James Reid, whose home at 17309 Sun River Court backs up to the creek, said he woke up Monday and began watching the rise of the creek in his backyard.